Iran denies US claims it arms terror groups against Turkey
Turkish media quoted US ambassador to Turkey as saying that Iran, a close ally of Syria, was providing weapons for Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
"The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ankara denies the US ambassador to Ankara's statements targeting Iran and all kinds of claims about Iran providing weapons to terror organisations," it said, without directly denying that it provides arms for the Syrian regime.
In an interview with Turkish journalists, US envoy Francis J. Ricciardone criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for allowing Iranian arms transfers to Syria. Turkish media speculated that these arms could land into the hands of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has escalated attacks on Turkish targets recently.
Reports last month claimed that Washington had hard times in urging Maliki to prevent Iranian arms shipments with cargo planes passing through Iraqi air space. The reports noted that there was significant progress as Baghdad bowed to the US pressure and partially blocked the arms shipment to Syria. It was not clear if these weapons ended up in the hands of the PKK-linked groups in northern Syria predominantly populated by ethnic Kurds.
Ricciardone lauded Turkey for being "very effective" in preventing Syria-bound Iranian trucks and flights with arms and dual-use equipment.
"Turkey has ensured that planes land for inspection. We wish Iraq to do the same as well," Ricciardone explained. "The Syrian regime shares those arms with terror groups," he added.
The statement dismissed the US arguments, saying that Iran itself lost hundreds of citizens in fight against the PKK and instead accused the US for instigating instability among Muslim nations.